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The Desert of Maine Center for Arts and Ecology inspires the community to engage with Maine’s rich cultural history and become responsible stewards of our land through nature-based educational programs, top-tier artistic performances, and workshops for youth, residents, and visitors.

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The Desert of Maine

Center for Arts & Ecology

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Our Story

The Desert of Maine Center for Arts and Ecology was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in spring 2021. While the Desert of Maine, a commercial enterprise since 1926, continues to operate as a tourist destination and campground, the Center for Arts and Ecology is a separate entity focusing solely on educational, ecological, and arts programming for curious audiences of all ages. 


The Desert of Maine offers a unique outdoor classroom to witness ecological impact and recovery—while visitors can view obvious signs of ecological devastation and the negative impact of human choices, we can also witness nature’s remarkable resilience. The Desert is an ideal place to study reforestation, allowing us to view the commonalities with other landscapes that are rebounding while also observing the resilient and co-evolving native ecosystems that are unique to this landscape. Far from being a wasteland, the Desert of Maine is a living testament to the ability of nature to heal and thrive once again. Our educational programs provide an immersive look into environmental consequences and rehabilitation. 


The Tuttle Barn, dating to the mid-1800s and the last surviving structure of the working Freeport farm owned by the Tuttle family, offers a lens to view Maine’s agricultural and architectural history. Our educational programs often include historical reenactment transporting us back in time with Eleanor and Elizabeth Tuttle, who provide a glimpse into the daily joys and stresses of a Civil War-era Maine farm.


The Desert of Maine's unique and wondrous natural landscape inspires artistic expression. Maine is rich in talented musicians, artists, and artisans, and we strive to connect them with broader audiences through our programming. Part of our vision is to create a vibrant arts center to serve visitors, artists, and Freeport residents. 


We are currently applying for 501(c)(3) status.

Who We Are

Mela Heestand
Executive Director 

Deb Perkins


Ex-Officio, Board of Directors

Lauren Manganello

Treasurer, Board of Directors

Tom Boutureira

Secretary, Board of Directors

Anne Ackerman

Board of Directors

Jennifer Pochurek

Board of Directors

John Albright

Board of Directors

Who We Are
Our Story
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